Thursday, 26 January 2012


What is it like to be an MA student at Institute of Development Studies? A graduate of the 2011 cohort talks about why she moved from New Delhi to take the MA Science, Society and Development.

Shweta Srinivasan, was working for the Indo-Asian News Service, an International News Agency based in New Delhi, India, when she decided she needed to engage more fully with development issues and policy.After thorough research she realised the course that would most meet her needs was the MA Science, Society and Development with its focus on Sustainability and Development and she decided to move to England for a year of study. Here, she talks about the course:

Q: What was the best thing about the course?

A: IDS is the best of both worlds, a University experience and the dynamic work environment of a think tank and policy advisory body of repute. The other thing that stands out for me is the people I met, both personal friends and professional contacts.

Q: What do you feel you got out of the course?
A: The course gave me a very thorough understanding of existing debates in Science, Agriculture, Environment and Health Policy as well as a nuanced understanding of contexts in different countries. I’ve learned to deconstruct many of the predominant framings in development discourse and policy. I now have both relevant skills and a sound theoretical base gained from the international exposure and constant engagement with current research and upcoming issues.

Q: What do you feel was the most important issue you tackled on the course?
A: The course dealt with very fundamental issues linking the use of science, technology and modern "developments" in agriculture and health with the changing landscape of development. This was why I chose the course, the presentation and unpacking of underlying theory will remain etched in my mind for many years ahead.

Q: Which piece of work are you most proud of?
A: My dissertation. I was able to relate my prior experience as a journalist and documentary film maker and mesh it with theoretical concepts that I discovered along the year which weren't necessarily a part of the entire course structure. My dissertation titled Water Grabs in India's Mining Belts used concepts in political ecology and exclusion to unpack some inherent systemic problems in water management in Rajasthan. Without the flexibility of my course and guidance of my supervisor who is part of the KNOTS team  that hosts the SSD course, my learning would have been disconnected.

Q: What were the other students like?
A: It was an amazing mix from different countries, professional backgrounds and levels of experience. I now know people from literally across the globe in connected, if not the same, fields of work.

Q: What are you up to now you’ve graduated?
A: I have assisted on research projects at IDS as a research associate and consultant. I’m now trying to find a profile that fits my communications background with policy research.

Q: Do you think you'll go on to further study now that you have an MA?
A: Maybe… after a few years of work.

Find out more about the MA Science, Society and Development or email
Find out more about the KNOTS team (The STEPS Centre is located in the KNOTS Team at IDS)
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Monday, 16 January 2012


Steve Waddell, founding Executive Director of Global Action Network Net (GAN-Net) and Leadership for Change (among his many other activities) has written on his blog about the STEPS Centre's recent flagship book, Dynamic Sustainabilities; Technology, Environment, Social Justice.

His piece, entitled Sustainability Networks for Stability, Durability, Resilience and Robustness, takes a critical look at the arguments put forward by the book's authors, Melissa Leach, Ian Scoones and Andy Stirling, and applies some of the thinking to the role of Global Action Networks.
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Friday, 13 January 2012


By Julia Day

Friday 13th; unlucky for some. But for a new initiative launching today, we hope the old proverb is wrong and the date will prove auspicious. The Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) – being unveiled in London today - aims to help developing countries move towards low-carbon economies.

The idea behind the network is a bit like a dating game: There are a bunch of people with similar interests, namely research on low-carbon development. Until now there has not been an arena where these people can meet and promote their passion. It is hoped that the LCEDN will be a meeting place to enable collective action and cooperation on energy for development research.

There have traditionally been limited connections between research communities working on this issue, according to the LCEDN. The organisation says there are increasingly urgent issues around energy services in developing nations but a lack of coherence between research and policy agendas.

Thus it is hoped that academics, practitioners, policy-makers and private sector organisations will use the network to find out how new technologies can be used in in different developing economies to create of low carbon energy, aiding the transition to low carbon economies, as well as helping to tackle the chronic problem of energy poverty.

Among its activities, the network will seek to link British energy experts to those in developing economies, helping to identify UK-based skills and knowledge that could help developing economies achieve low carbon futures.

Other areas of work will include reviewing the existing evidence base and current energy/development research in the UK, developing a directory of research expertise and capabilities for policy-makers and practitioners and rapid evidence reviews of specific technologies, particular countries and emerging themes where there is a current policy and research need.

"This is another opportunity for the UK in low carbon energy development. There is a lot the UK can offer and the network could be the first step in doing this,” said Professor Richard Davies, Director of Durham Energy Institute (DEI), in the network’s press release.

"It will allow us to meet and work closely with colleagues elsewhere in the world, to understand their priorities and how they are driving their developing economies forward, feeding from each other's expertise,” Prof. Davies added.

The network is led by DEI and the Midlands Energy Consortium (comprising Loughborough, Birmingham, and Nottingham universities). Three other academic research centres - SPRU Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex, the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) are part of the network.

The STEPS Centre - which is based at SPRU and IDS - is also researching low-carbon development issues, headed up by SPRU research fellow and STEPS energy domain convenor Rob Byrne, who also sits on the LCEDN committee.

Rob and other STEPS colleagues, have recently published a Working Paper and briefing looking at pathways to low-carbon development. Both are available for free download on the STEPS website.

The Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN), is funded with a £100k grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

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Monday, 9 January 2012


By Julia Day

It is 2012 already, and the biggest event in our calendar this year (apologies to Seb Coe and the London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee) is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20.

While June may seem like a long way away, many people in sustainable development networks have been working hard for months to help make Rio+20 matter. But will the event itself deliver any binding agreements or practical solutions? Or, come July, will stakeholders have to continue self-organising for change without any leadership, guidance or input from the UN process? I have written a blog for the Guardian's Poverty Matters site, which explores some of the issues in the run-up to Rio+20. Have a read and comment with your views, it would be interesting to hear how others are feeling at this point.

We will post details of our work for Rio+20 on the STEPS website and here on The Crossing blog. Let's hope 2012 is a productive, positive and peaceful year. Read more